Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is condemning violent events in Edmonton as a “terrorist attack” following a chaotic night that saw a police officer stabbed and several pedestrians run down with a cube van.
Edmonton police said they have a 30-year-old man in custody and they think he acted alone. But police chief Rod Knecht stressed Sunday morning that the investigation is in its early stages and authorities haven’t ruled out others might have been involved.
The police officer was taken to hospital and treated for non life-threatening injuries. Four people were injured by the van, but the extent of their injuries was not immediately known.
Trudeau said Sunday that he was deeply concerned and outraged at what he called a “terrorist attack.”
It all began Saturday night outside the Edmonton Eskimos CFL football game at Commonwealth Stadium where it was military appreciation night.
While the Eskimos were battling the Winnipeg Blue Bombers inside the stadium, outside a white Chevy Malibu approached a traffic control post at a high speed.
Edmonton police released grainy footage of a car ramming a crowd control barricade with a uniformed officer standing beside it. The footage shows the officer being tossed about five metres into the air as the car slams into the front of a parked police cruiser.
The video shows two people walking by with their dogs rushing towards the officer on the ground but they run off when the driver gets out of the car, runs over and appears to starts stabbing the officer.
The police officer appears to wrestle with the driver on the ground and, at one point, it appears the officer is on top of the driver. Footage shows them both getting to their feet and the driver runs across the street while the officer slowly follows behind him into traffic.
Police launched a manhunt for the suspect. Police say anslamic State flag was found in the front seat of the car and was seized as evidence.
A few hours later, while fans filed out of the game and were re-routed around the crime scene, a U-Haul cube van was stopped at a checkstop north of downtown.
When the driver was asked for his licence, Knecht said the name on the identification was close to that of the registered owner of white Malibu.
When confronted, Knecht said the U-Haul sped off toward downtown with police cars in pursuit.
The van intentionally swerved at pedestrians in crosswalks, Knecht said.
“It is believed at this time that these two incidents are related,” Knecht said. “These incidents are being investigated as acts of terrorism.”
The name of the suspect was not released. Knecht said he was known to police, but there was no warning for the attack.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said “Canada will not be intimidated by terrorist violence.”
Goodale’s office issued a statement to say the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team was working closely with Edmonton police.
“At this time, the national terrorism threat level for Canada remains at ‘medium’ where it has stood since the fall of 2014,” his spokesman Scott Bardsley wrote, adding Canadians should report any suspicious activity.
(Rob Drinkwater, Chris Purdy and John Cotter, from Canadian Press)